Women live longer than men: The science of longevity

Women live longer than men across the world, but this wasn’t always the case. According to the data from wealthy nations, women did not live longer than males in the 19th century. Why do women currently live longer than males, and why has this benefit grown over time? We just have fragmentary evidence and responses. We are aware that biological, behavioural, and environmental variables all have a role in women living longer than males, but we are unsure of the relative strength of any of these influences.

Regardless of the precise weight, we are aware that several significant non-biological elements have changed, which is at least partially the cause of why Women live longer than men did in the past. What precisely are these altering elements? Some are well known and rather simple, like the fact that males smoke more. Some are trickier to understand. There is evidence, for instance, that the female advantage increased in wealthy nations in part because infectious diseases used to disproportionately affect women a century ago. As a result, medical advancements that lessened the long-term health burden from infectious diseases, especially for survivors, ended up raising women’s longevity disproportionately.

Everywhere in the world Women live longer than men

Women live longer than men

The first graph below displays the life expectancy of men and women at birth. As we can see, every country is above the diagonal parity line, which indicates that a newborn girl may anticipate living longer than a newborn male in every nation.

Interestingly, this graph demonstrates that while the female advantage persists globally, there are significant cross-country variances. In Bhutan, the gap is less than half a year whereas it is 10 years Women live longer than men in Russia.

In rich countries the female advantage in longevity used to be smaller

Now let’s examine how the lifespan advantage for women has altered throughout time. The life expectancy at birth for men and women in the US from 1790 to 2014 is shown in the following graph. Two things jump out.

Men and women in the US now Women live longer than men, much longer than they did a century ago. This is the first rising trend. This is consistent with global life expectancy rises throughout history.

The difference between male and female life expectancy used to be extremely minor, but it has significantly increased during the past century.

You may verify that these two statements hold true for Sweden, France, and the UK as well as the other nations for which data is available by selecting “Change country” from the chart’s drop-down menu.

Higher odds of surviving childhood contribute to, but may not totally account for, the female advantage in life expectancy.

Boys are more likely than girls to die as children in the majority of nations. How much of the male deficit in newborn mortality is actually a tale about the female advantage Women live longer than men?

These sex-based mortality inequalities are undoubtedly a significant factor influencing differences in life expectancy in underdeveloped nations with high rates of child mortality. The male disadvantage in newborn mortality, however, cannot fully account for the observed inequalities in life expectancy in wealthy nations, where fewer infants die and where sex differences in infant mortality are quite minor.

According to the available data, male newborns in today’s affluent nations experienced greater rates of child death in the 19th century than female infants did. This male disadvantage in child mortality increased over the first half of the 20th century as health outcomes improved. Similar to infant mortality, maternal mortality in these nations used to be extremely high but fell sharply throughout the 20th century.

However, as this figure demonstrates, in France, Sweden, the US, and the UK, women also have a greater life expectancy than males, assuming Women live longer than men to be 45 years old, and this gap widened over the first part of the 20th century, peaking between 1970 and 1980.

The inequalities in life expectancy between men and women do change as a result of changes in infant and maternal mortality, but they do not entirely account for the increase in the longevity gap that we have seen in wealthy nations over the last century.

What explains the female advantage and why has it changed over time?

According to the data, there are chromosomal and hormonal variations between men and women that have an impact on lifespan. For instance, men often have more visceral fat (fat that surrounds the organs) but women typically have more subcutaneous fat (fat that sits immediately beneath the skin). This variation, which affects Women live longer than men since fat around the organs is a predictor of cardiovascular disease in females, is influenced by both oestrogen and the existence of the second X chromosome.

But biological distinctions can only be a part of the tale; otherwise, we wouldn’t witness such stark variations across time and between nations. What else may be happening?

However, there are certain hints that point in the right direction. We know, for instance, that changes in men’s smoking practises have had an impact on mortality trends.4 We also know that previous medical developments have had differing effects on men’s and women’s health outcomes. We learn more about this process from a 2018 study by Claudia Goldin and Adriana Lleras-Muney that examined long-term data on infectious disorders.

In the US, girls aged 5 to 25 suffered disproportionately from infectious illnesses in the 19th century, according to Lleras-Muney and Goldin. As the burden of infectious disease decreased for both sexes, it benefited women more than it did men.

What are the open questions?

We are aware that Women live longer than men, but this is not always the case. Biological, behavioural, and environmental variables all have a role in why Women live longer than men, however the proportional importance of each of these elements is unknown.

The graphic below demonstrates that mortality rates are greater for males in the majority of nations for all major causes of death. More precise data demonstrates that this is true at all ages, yet oddly, although having lower overall mortality rates than males, women frequently have greater rates of physical sickness, more days lost to incapacity, more medical visits, and longer hospital admissions. Women live longer than men not just because they age more slowly, but also because they appear to be healthier at any age when they become ill. This is an intriguing topic that need additional study.

A concluding remark

An intriguing Women live longer than men point made in the study by Adriana Lleras-Muney and Claudia Goldin is that the disproportionate increase in lifespan that women experienced in the 20th century across wealthy nations as a result of the decline in infectious illnesses was not directly related to gains from decreased mortality.

The decline in infectious disease-related fatalities was significant, but it was not the primary cause of the widening gender disparity in life expectancy. What appears to have made a difference in the gap was the long-term indirect effect on survivors: People who survive infectious illnesses frequently carry a health load that damages their organs, making them more vulnerable later in life Women live longer than men. For instance, rheumatic fever frequently results in damage to the heart’s valves and rheumatic heart disease in later life.

The medical sciences have long recognised the link between childhood infectious illness and subsequent health, but there are few estimates of the effect on the population as a whole. Therefore, the substantial impact on life expectancy discovered by Lleras-Muney and Goldin actually has practical relevance for policy today; it suggests that in areas where infectious disease mortality is still high, the return on investment from treating these diseases may be much higher than we think, due to the long-term indirect health benefits for survivors Women live longer than men.


Which gender is stronger?

The average male is typically far stronger than the average woman in terms of absolute strength, which is strength independent of body size, weight, or composition. In particular, it has been observed that women’s absolute total-body strength is around 67% that of men’s.

Is there a reason that women live longer?

Menstruation causes women to tend to be more iron-deficient. Free radical generation is aided by high amounts of iron, which also raises the chance of developing cancer. In light of this, it may also be understood why women often live longer than males.

Also Read: Sugar substitutes: Are they harmful? Find out its impacts on you

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Riya Kapoor

Riya Kapoor writes about lifestyle, entertainment, news and gadgets. She has been in this industry for almost 4 years now. She is a graduate from Delhi University with English Hons and had deep connection with writing since her childhood.

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